The Western Australian Football Commission (WAFC) has announced changes to the rules and regulations governing the WA Football League (WAFL) competition to further strengthen the integrity, competitiveness and governance of the competition for season 2017.
The changes are the result of extensive consultation and research involving WAFL Club representatives, the Australian Football League (AFL), including both West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and the Victorian Football League (VFL) to ensure the WAFL competition remains effective and sustainable.
The four main areas of change include:
The finals eligibility of players for the WAFL competition was reviewed with extensive consultation with the clubs involved and the comparison of data with other competitions around the country.
WAFC Chief Executive Officer Gavin Taylor said it was imperative an objective approach to reviewing the eligibility of players during the WAFL Finals series was undertaken.
“I acknowledge that the high number of AFL-listed players playing in the WAFL Grand Final raised concerns amongst WAFL fans and some club officials. Acknowledging these concerns, we undertook an objective approach to reviewing this rule with a clear focus on analysing data to consider the most appropriate rule was applied moving forward,” Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor said the Commission gathered valuable feedback and explored a number of options, based on the evidence and data collected at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
The WAFC has established a 15 AFL-listed player cap to be applied to all WAFL Partner Clubs during the WAFL Finals series whilst retaining the existing finals eligibility of a minimum five home and away games.
“The 2016 Finals series was a very unique circumstance, however after considering other feedback and reviewing a range of options, and engaging with both WAFL and AFL clubs we believe this change will assist in maintaining the integrity and the quality of the WAFL competition,” Mr Taylor said.
Changes have also been made to the transfer fees within the WAFL Competition based on player age, experience and standing, following the extensive work undertaken and recommendations put forward by the Future Shape of the WAFL Committee, chaired by East Fremantle FC Chief Executive Officer Todd Shimmon.
Mr Taylor said the rule ensures a more efficient, transparent and fair transfer fee system will be delivered within the WAFL competition.
“It was crucial we design a set of player transfer fees based on age, experience and standing to remove the current inflationary pressure placed on clubs, relating to player movement in the competition, and allow players to transfer from club to club more effectively,” Mr Taylor said.
With a major focus and commitment to enhancing talent pathways, programs and coaching standards at the Colts level of the WAFL competition, the WAFC has established a 35 Colts player-listing system to create more opportunities for players and encourage clubs to be more proactive in identifying talent.
Mr Taylor said this new system enables Colts players outside the list of 35, who aren’t getting an opportunity to play at their club, to be identified by and seek opportunities at other clubs.
“These changes reflect our clear intent to ensuring that our Colts players are provided the best opportunities to get involved in our game regardless of their location,” Mr Taylor said.
Changes to the WAFL Tribunal have come about following an annual review of the processes currently in place and the identified need to have a more independent review system.
Mr Taylor said it is crucial the rules and regulations of the WAFL competition are continually being reviewed and necessary changes are made.
“The best interests of all involved in the WAFL competition, including the players, the fans, club representatives, and officials, was paramount through this extensive process and we will continue to review and adapt the WAFL competition, where necessary, to ensure it remains healthy and successful into the future,” Mr Taylor said.
Click here for a more detailed understanding of the changes made to the WAFL Rules and Regulations.